A black conservative on the conversation ‘a lot of people, black or white,’ don’t ‘want to have’

Benjamin Weingarten | August 22, 2014

Jason Riley of the Wall Street Journal Editorial Board has been one of the most prominent and outspoken contrarian voices in the media in the wake of the Michael Brown shooting and ongoing chaos in Ferguson, Missouri. 

Echoing the themes of his new book, covered extensively by TheBlaze Books, “Please Stop Helping Us,” in a recent viral appearance on Meet The Press (captured below), Riley seemed to make the show’s panel very uncomfortable by contending that the real issue represented in Ferguson is black criminality itself.

Since the Meet The Press panel promptly cut Riley off in the middle of his response to anchor Andrea Mitchell’s question, we reached out to Riley and asked him what he would have said had he been allowed to speak freely. Here is what he told us [emphasis Riley’s]: 

I don’t see how you reduce these tensions going forward between these inner city communities and the police…in an environment where the black crime rate is what it is. I mean that is what is driving this.

Blacks are only thirteen percent of the population, but they are responsible for something like half of all murders in America. Half. I mean all manner of violent crime, all manner of property crime, you see black arrests at two or three times their numbers in the population. And until you…address that black crime problem — that black criminality — I don’t know how you’re going to address these other issues that people want to talk about, involving tensions between the black community and law enforcement, or involving racial profiling and so forth.

What is driving those tensions is black crimes. What is driving those perceptions of young black men are these crime statistics.

And if you want to change those perceptions, you need to change the behavior driving those perceptions. And that is not a conversation a lot of people, black or white, want to have. They want to talk about incarceration rates, but not crime rates. They want to talk about tensions in the black community, but they don’t want to talk about the behavior driving those tensions. 

And I think we need to have an honest conversation about black criminality if we want to move forward in addressing a lot of bad black outcomes we see in these ghettos.

Among other issues covered in the interview, Riley also took on what he calls the “civil rights industry,” arguing that:

So many in the civil rights industry as I refer to it and in the black political leadership have a vested interest in…this idea that the black man is so put-upon by white society, and that that is what is driving these outcomes. And so you get your sort of professional agitators like [Al] Sharpton and Jesse Jackson getting to work…it serves their interest.

Riley continued:

If you go around talking about how white racism is responsible for all these bad black outcomes, you get a tv show…If you go around talking about personal responsibility and black behavior…you don’t get a tv show. 

Riley also had a chance to riff on the political impetus that he sees behind the words and actions of President Obama and Eric Holder, telling us:

 [W]hen it comes to black political leaders, they also have a vested interest here. And that is in the case of Holder and Obama, driving black turnout; continuing their black support, political support. And so in Holder and Obama you have people who think nothing of dividing us along racial lines when it suits their political interest.

Holder’s been running around the country claiming that white Republicans are trying to disenfranchise blacks with voter ID laws. He’s been claiming that criticism of the administration is racially driven. And I think he has political goals in mind with that. And the fact that he’s stoking racial resentment does not concern him. That is trumped by his political goals, and that is to address his black constituents and tell them what they want to hear, or what he thinks will get them out to the polls to support President Obama.